SNELLVILLE — After seeing two games lost due to critical mistakes, Brookwood was in dire need of a well-executed game when South Gwinnett came calling Friday night.
This time, it was the Broncos who capitalized on their opponents’ mistakes as they piled up a 21-point lead on three short-field situations in the first quarter before cruising past their Snellville rivals 35-7 Friday night at Brookwood Community Stadium.
But it was more than just being opportunistic that pleased Brookwood coach Phillip Jones about the performance.
It was also the work of the offensive line, which opened up holes for the Broncos (1-2) running game to pile up 147 yards on 28 carries, including 107 on 21 carries with two touchdowns by Dante Black.
“As a program, we’re taking a collective exhale,” Jones said. “We knew that the first two games were not very representative of who we were, the kind of program we have and what we’ve been building for. So I’m extremely proud of our team for continuing to believe in spite of the adversity we’ve faced these last two weeks.
“We prepared really, really well this week. I’m proud of our coaches for putting together a great (game) plan. Our guys just kept their heads down and kept working and came out and executed the plan. … (South has) what most people consider to be the best defensive line in the state, but we think we’ve got a pretty good offensive line, too. We made the decision in our plan that we weren’t going to back down. We were going to challenge them. I’m extremely proud of our offensive line.”
That said, the Broncos jumped out on the Comets (1-2) before they even knew what hit them, and never let up.
South’s first miscue came just three plays after the opening kickoff, when Caleb Riley picked off a Treyvon Woodson pass and returned it 9 yards to the Comets’ 30-yard line.
It took just two Black runs, the second from 11 yards out, for the Broncos to cash in for a 7-0 lead just 1:40 into the game.
Three plays and a short punt later, Brookwood was in South territory again.
This time, Black ran for 23 yard, and Angelo DiSpigna followed with a bootleg to his right before sending a swing pass to a wide open Ennio Zambino in the flat.
And the junior tight end ran untouched into the end zone for a TD that expanded the Broncos lead to 14-0 with 8:01 left in the first quarter.
After hold South on another quick three-and-out, Brookwood was the beneficiary of another mistake when Derrick Lawrence couldn’t handle the pass from center on a punt, forcing him to fall on the loose ball on the Comets’ 7.
The South defensive line stood tough on two straight run plays, and Brookwood moved 5 yards further back with a penalty.
But on third and goal, DisSpigna rolled to his left under pressure and found enough room to zip around the and hit the pylon for a 15-yard TD run, making the Broncos lead 21-0 with 4:36 left in the opening frame.
“When the ball starts rolling downhill as it does, you just try to maintain,” South coach Steve Davenport said. “That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to maintain our composure and try to get the thing turned around. But it was mistake after mistake after mistake (Friday).
“But that’s no excuse. You’ve got to give full credit to Brookwood. … It was a thorough whoopin’. There’s not a whole lot of excuses to be made. You’ve got to tip your hat to Coach (Jones). He had his team prepared. Obviously, I didn’t have my team prepared enough to prevent those three short fields at the beginning of the game. That’s my responsibility, and I take full responsibility for it. We’ll get back to work Sunday and work on that as a staff. When we see the kids Monday, we’ll continue that work.”
Brookwood’s offense then demonstrated it could drive on its next possession, marching 75 yards on 11 plays, ending with Black dashing 29 yards for his third touchdown on the night, extending the Broncos lead to 28-0 with 10:20 left in the first half.
Matthew Hill then added the cherry on top for Brookwood with a 58-yard punt return for a touchdown that made the score 35-0 with 43 seconds left in the third quarter.
South managed to avoid a shutout by taking advantage of one of the few Brookwood mistakes on the evening, as Armond Williams’ blocked punt set up Jalen Samuels’ 2-yard TD run with 3:23 remaining that finally got the Comets on the board at 35-7.
BROOKWOOD 35, SOUTH GWINNETT 7
South Gwinnett 0 0 0 7 ― 7
Brookwood 21 7 7 0 ― 35
Brookwood: Dante Black 11 run (Jake Cartmill kick), 10:20
Brookwood: Ennio Zambino 19 pass from Angelo DiSpigna (Cartmill kick), 8:01
Brookwood: DiSpigna 15 run (Cartmill kick), 4:36
Brookwood: Black 29 run (Cartmill kick), 7:29
Brookwood: Matthew Hill 58 punt return (Cartmill kick), 0:41
South: Jalen Samuels 2 run (Dawson Newman kick), 3:23
First downs 7 14
Rushes-yards 28-31 27-147
Passing yards 80 124
Att.-Comp.-INT 7-16-1 8-15-0
Fumbles-lost 3-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-35 12-88
Rushing — South: Samuels 15-79, Kyair Bethea 1-2, Myles Barnum 1-(-4), TEAM 2-(-12), Treyvon Woodson 9-(-34). Brookwood: Black 21-107, Hill 2-22, DiSpigna 1-15, Anthony McClary 3-3.
Passing — South: Woodson 7-16-1, 80. Brookwood: DiSpigna 6-12-0, 66; Justin Fomby 4-5-0, 58.
Receiving — South: Adrian Compton 2-43, Derrick Lawrence 2-11, Bethea 1-25, Samuels 1-2, Jakobi Givens 1-(-1). Brookwood: Hill 5-46, Cameron Barrington 2-14, Zambino 1-19, Black 1-14, Chris Cotter 1-11.